An HR professional at a leading IT firm is calling time on her 16-year
career in personnel to become a plumber.
Personnel Today reader Ruth Pankhurst has decided to train as a plumber and
eventually change career completely.
Pankhurst currently works as an HR manager at Sun Microsystems, but is
hoping to forge a new career to achieve more fulfilment and variety in her
"I wanted to do something completely different, but with skills that
were recognised as valuable. So I looked into a few trades and finally decided
on plumbing," she explained.
Her decision is partly down to what she perceives as a lack of recognition
of the value of HR, and of all the hard work of its practitioners.
"I think HR is a very valuable part of the business. Unfortunately,
some of the benefits aren’t that tangible, so you often don’t get recognition
for the effort put in," she said.
"At parties, when people asked what I did, I got sick of the blank
looks when I said HR," Pankhurst added. "When I turned 40, I decided
it was time to do something else."
Plumbing is fast becoming the new choice for fed-up professionals and
academics. Last month, we reported how Karl Gensberg swapped his role as a
microbiologist to work in the same trade.
Pankhurst said her move was primarily about personal job satisfaction and
not money, as she will initially take a drop in salary to pursue her ambitions.
"My salary has already dropped because I’m working fewer hours,"
she said. "I’m really enjoying the challenge and learning new skills. My
employers are being really supportive in the whole thing."
Pankhurst now studies at college for two days a week, and will complete her
final exams in June. She will then look for a traineeship with a private
company or self-employed plumber.
By Ross Wigham
Career-swap trend among PT readers continues too grow
Following the career move of Hollyoaks actress Lesley Johnson, who followed
her heart to become a midwife, we asked you tell us about the job moves you had
made for happiness or money.
After spending all of my working life in manufacturing, redundancy forced a
change in career direction at the age of 42. In a new role, I managed a project
of 200 people undertaking decorating jobs for the elderly in the community. It
was the most satisfying job I have ever experienced, and led to a new career in
HR. I graduated to the CIPD just before my 50th birthday, and following
promotion to HR manager, I gained full membership at the age of 52. I did not
start living until I changed career.
John Haynes, HR manager, TRW
I was a probation service officer in prison throughcare (ie parole), before
going into online learning research.
Ruth Turner, via e-mail
I was in pest-control before going to the Himalayas, re-evaluating my life,
and deciding to get into publishing. It drastically cut my annual income in the
name of job satisfaction, but the rats just didn’t do it for me!
Anita, via e-mail
I was once a professional actor, but as the work dried-up, so did my
thespian ambitions. Thankfully, after many years of hard work, I now have a
rewarding career in personnel and training.
I left a job at a daily newspaper in New Zealand to spend nine months as a
semi-pro rugby player/coach in a small Devon town. I first was a labourer,
building chicken sheds. I was able to take a long break from journalism and
rekindle my enthusiasm for it. And I made friends who I still catch up with
Simon Ebbett, via e-mail